THE WEIRD WAY SHORT-TERM SACRIFICES TURN INTO LONG-TERM SUCCESS
Newsflash… there are no shortcuts in life. There are hacks to make you more efficient, but I’ve never heard of anyone who took a shortcut. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or your background. If you plan to accomplish anything worthwhile you are going to have to invest some time in getting it done. AND you are going to be surprised at how little you miss what you might give up!
Last week I wrote how each of us must define the word “success” as a personal definition. It’s a very individual and unique definition that is deeply rooted in your Purpose. To achieve this, you are going to have to make the effort to do so. Barring a miracle, tomorrow morning you probably aren’t going to just wake up and be there yet.
You must answer, “Are you willing to do the time and effort required to achieve your success?”
Sadly, many people say “no”. Maybe not out loud, but their actions and behavior confirm they aren’t going to do it. Consciously or subconsciously, all of us are answering this question. When you don’t say “Yes” then you’ve already answered “No”. “Maybe” is a – NO – as well.
Living your Purpose and achieving your kind of success is a long-term game. To win this game you need a plan, you need clarity, and you need to make short-term sacrifices.
“Sacrifice” is not a word we use much these days. It implies you have to give up something you like or you want. Never mind that in doing so we can gain something better. We just don’t like that word. We live in an instant gratification culture. Sacrifice is a strange concept in today’s ‘you can have it all’ – and have it right now – culture.
GIVING UP LITTLE TO GAIN A LOT
Suppose you want to retire with $1,000,000 in the bank by age 60. To do that you have to either strike it big or start saving a specific amount every month of your life. Putting aside money every month might mean you have to drive a less than luxurious car. Or you might need to get a smaller house. Whatever it means, you have to make some short-term sacrifices to play and win at this long-term game. If you want to eat more of that cake you just baked at the end of the week, you can’t eat the entire thing today.
Sacrifice seems to be easier when you are working toward something big or important. The more noble and worthy the goal, the more willing you are to make these short-term sacrifices.
One of my favorite movies is Man On Fire with (one of my favorite actors) Denzel Washington. You’ve probably seen it. If not – spoiler alert – Denzel’s character makes the ultimate sacrifice to save a young girl that is very close to him. The subplot is about his personal redemption for things he’s done in his past. He sees his job of protecting the young girl as his personal Purpose. It is his noble cause to which he can dedicate himself. And he does this by giving his life in exchange for the little girl.
You may not have to physically give your life to live your Purpose. You are, however, going to have to make some choices. The more dedicated you are to your Purpose, the more noble you believe your calling to be, the more willing you are to make these choices.
A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR HELPS THE MEDICINE…
Before you check out on me, short-term sacrifices don’t have to be as onerous as you might think. Necessary – yes. There is no way getting around them. The key is to find ways to focus more on what you will gain, rather than what you think you’ve lost. Trust me on this. As you live more in sync with your Purpose, as time moves on these short-term sacrifices will be long forgotten.
- Pre-plan for short-term sacrifices. You know they are going to have to be made. In fact, you probably know what most of them are right now. Make a list of everything you think you might have to give up in the short-term.
- Temporary or Permanent. Decide whether or not you will have to give these things up temporarily or permanently. You might be surprised that some things you can do without for a short while and then pick them up again if you want.
- Dive deeper. Look at each one individually. Determine whether or not you are willing to give those things up in order to achieve your goal. A simple example is losing weight. If you want to lose weight you are going to have to give up the all you can eat buffets. Are you willing to do that?
- Begin with the Permanent ones. For example, someone who is trying to become clean and sober will have to give up drinking or using drugs recreationally and it may mean that they will never be able to use narcotics even when they should be prescribed.
- Temporary for how long? Look at the things that you may have to give up temporarily. For example, if your plan is to open a business at the end of the year, you may have to give up going to the movies or eating out for that year.
- Repurpose Temporary sacrifices into personal rewards. Make sure that you use the things that you are giving up temporarily as rewards. Using the business goal as an example, if you achieve your goals like choosing inventory, finishing your business plan or some other goal, use things like eating out and movies as a reward for your hard work.
Having a measured perspective about these short-term sacrifices will make the easier to swallow. It also makes you more motivate to achieve the longer-term gain. Keep yourself focused on that first.
MY MILEAGE EPHIPHONY
This morning I went out for run. Running is probably the most consistent form of exercise I’ve done throughout my life. Now I don’t really like to run. I only do it because it helps me control my weight, it doesn’t require any special gear or equipment, and I don’t have to go anywhere to do it. Just put on my running shoes and step outside.
It does take time however. As I’ve gotten older my time has slowed. Last year I tried to keep up with a training group of younger runners doing 9-minute miles. That cost me a few months of tendinous and visits to the physical therapist!
The long-term benefits of regular exercise are not debatable. We all know they exist and we all know we have to do it. If I want to remain healthy now I need to eat right and exercise. There is no magic pill I can take to get the same benefit. Not only does it improve and maintain my good health today, it is going to make a big difference when I am in my eighties and nineties. It will keep my immune system strong and help me to maintain my personal mobility longer.
I always come back to this long-term gain when I am nearing the end of a run. Usually about a half mile from finishing I can hear myself rationalizing why I should just stop now!
More importantly it is the biggest motivator to start my run. There has probably never been a day where I said to myself, “I am really excited to go out and run!” The time it takes for me to run, cool down afterwards, and get cleaned up is time I would rather spend doing something else. Yet this short -term sacrifice of time and comfort is a necessary investment into a longer-term gain of sustainable health. I remind myself of that. Keeping your long-term goal in your focus makes the short-term investments easier to do.
WISHES AND GOALS
It is the same in living your Purpose or achieving your definition of success. You have to decide what is most important. Is it the immediate gratification of comfort and familiarity or is it the long-term end? Your Purpose is a high calling. It is noble and divinely inspired. If that isn’t worth some short-term sacrifice then I don’t know what is! But you have the choice and the free will to make it. So, choose wisely.
There is a real difference between a wish and a goal. I may wish to have good, long term sustainable health. I may wish to have a big impact for the good with the people God has connected me with. Those are good wishes. For these wishes to turn into reality I have to take action. There must be a deliberate intention and approach to make these things happen. When anyone resolves to take this kind of action, the wish becomes a goal.
You have the chance to live life abundantly. Today, right now, you have all you need to make this happen. It will require some changes on your part. Changes in lifestyle, priorities, intentions, direction, maybe even personal values. They don’t have be dramatic changes. Some will be temporary short-term sacrifices. Others may be more permanent. The question is, will you make them? Is your Purpose important enough to put it first in your life?
That is a choice only you can make.